Use Case I: Crowdsourced Disaster Response

We can see an increasing number of examples where humans contribute to large-scale collective action by sharing information online. This can be in case of a disastrous event (e.g. the Haiti earthquake) or political crisis (e.g. the Kenyan election). These examples have in common that even though there is some common topic or goal hovering above the information sharing activities of the individuals (e.g. coordinating help in disaster response or optimizing travel routes of people being affected by traffic disruptions) people are not necessarily talking with each other. They are just talking out loudly about the same thing (especially in critical situations when time to make decisions is rare). This suggests that there exists unintended collective action that is the substrate of the accumulated information sharing behaviour of individuals.

With Transcendental Information Cascades we provide a method to capture a macroscopic view to the various streams of information that happen online around a particular topic (e.g. information around the most recent Ebola outbreak on Ushahidi and Twitter). Some of these streams might be polluted with misinformation or just uninformative spam (e.g. tasteless jokes about Ebola) making it hard to extract useful messages [5]. It is necessary for stakeholders involved in aid work to coordinate the own useful information away that it can gain awareness.